To the editor:
(re: “CUNY union sides against Israel,” “When unions stop being unions,” July 29)
The principal officers of the Professional Staff Congress recognize and regret the real distress the PSC’s June 10 resolution about Israel and Palestine provoked in some members.
In fact, we voted against the resolution because we believed it risked dividing our membership at a time when we need a strong union to protect the health and livelihood of our members during a pandemic and economic crisis.
We respect Councilman Eric Dinowitz’s instinct to stand with constituents who feel marginalized. But we disagree that criticism of the policies of the state of Israel in general — or that the PSC resolution in particular —= is anti-Semitic.
That said, Israel and Palestine is an issue over which the PSC has little influence, and the members who are engaged about it have deeply held, divergent views. PSC members in Riverdale who are offended by the resolution should know they have the support of both their councilman and their union.
We believe the process that led to the June 10 resolution has revealed a need to modify the PSC’s policy on resolutions to enhance member engagement and affirm the representative role of our union delegates. The PSC should not shy away from taking positions of broad political import — the fight for workers’ rights is intersectional and international.
But the stances we take must strengthen our union.
Most PSC members — including many of those we have spoken to about their objections to the resolution — know that quitting the union in protest makes us all weaker. It diminishes our ability to win good contracts and raises, to protect health and safety, and to fight for respect and dignity on the job.
And it leaves us without important, passionate voices that deserve to be heard.
The author is president of Professional Staff Congress, a union that represents some 3,000 CUNY faculty and staff members.